Beautiful, Exotic, and Growing in Sevilla

There is always something growing, budding, and blooming in the city of Sevilla. My allergies have been running rampant as I work my way through my first spring and early summer in my still-new city. I’m hoping things won’t be quite so bad next year. But it really doesn’t matter. I’m not leaving. The clogged ears and stuffed head is a small price to pay for the beauty and magic that surrounds us. The streets, plazas, and parks are filled with a huge variety of blooming plants and trees. Being in our apartment this time of year is like living in a tree house.

SUMMER AT OUR HOUSE.  YOU CAN’T SEE THE PLAZA FOR THE TREES.

WHAT A SURPRISE.  BLOOMING IN OUR LIVING ROOM.
ON THE ISLAND OF CARTUJA, DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE.

HIBISCUS IN THE GARDENS OF MURILLO,
NEXT TO THE BARRIO SANTA CRUZ (THE OLD JEWISH QUARTER).
  
IN A TREE ACROSS FROM OUR PLAZA.

TOTALLY JAZZY BLOOMS IN THE ALAMEDA DE HERCULES.
(REALLY INCREDIBLE MUSIC…AND HAIR.)

IN MARIA LUISA PARK NEXT TO PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.

A TYPICAL SIGHT IN THE CITY,
OPEN FRONT DOORS WITH A VIEW THROUGH WROUGHT IRON INTO A GARDEN COURTYARD.
THIS IS THE COMMON AREA OF FOUR APARTMENTS.

AS AN OLD FRIEND FROM TEXAS WOULD SAY, “IT’S FIXIN’ TA BLOOM.”

Yeah, But Is It Art?

My cousin Al (first-cousin once-removed) is a curator of contemporary art visiting from the United Sates and, until he mentioned it, I didn’t even know Sevilla had a Center for Contemporary Art. So, it was an even better surprise to learn it was a pleasant, short walk from our house. The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo is located on the Island of Cartuja where there were rich clay deposits used by the potters of Triana to produce their ceramics products. In 1400, the Monastery of the Cartuja was built on the island and in the mid-19th century an English businessman bought the property and turned it into a world-famous pottery factory. In 1992, Sevilla restored the monastery as part of the Universal Exhibition. There are a number of chapels on the property. In one, Saint Anne’s Chapel, the body of Christopher Columbus lay in the crypt from 1509 to 1536.

BACK ENTRANCE (“RIVER DOOR”). MID-18TH CENTURY.

There were a couple of special exhibits Al wanted to see and they fortuitously didn’t end until Sunday. So we walked over in the baking sun.

THE SIMPLE TILE WORK OF THE LAYMEN’S ARCH.

HUH?
HUH?
HUH?
AND… HUH?

I raised my eyebrows a number of times at some of the art on display. But, the two artists Al was especially interested in seeing were both names I recognized (although really knew nothing about) and artwork I found interesting.

THE LARGE CLOISTERS.
LOOKING FROM THE ORIGINAL REMAINS TO 19TH AND 20TH-CENTURY RECONSTRUCTIONS. 
MY COUSIN THE CURATOR (BACKGROUND, RIGHT)… READING.
THE “LITTLE CLOISTERS.” MID-1400s.
(THE KNEELING NUNS AT FIRST GLANCE LOOKED LIKE YODA.) 
CHAPTER HOUSE. BURIAL PLACE OF THE RIBERA FAMILY (PATRONS OF THE MONASTERY).
IS THAT A BREATHING TUBE?!?
GALLERY BUILT AROUND PART OF CHIMNEY BASE.
A JOSÉ PIÑAR “REMASTERING” ON THE WALL.
JOSÉ PIÑAR: “GREATEST HITS.”
(A GREAT EXHIBIT, BUT MAYBE THEY SIMPLY RAN OUT OF WALL SPACE.)
FIONA TAN: FRONT-AND-BACK PROJECTED “FAMILY’ SLIDES IN HER “POINT OF DEPARTURE” EXHIBIT.
FIONA TAN: ONE OF MANY [POINT OF DEPARTURE] DOORS INTO HER VIDEO EXHIBITS.
BRITISH-STYLE OVENS FROM 19TH- AND 20TH-CENTURY CERAMICS FACTORY.
“HOMBRE-ORQUESTA” (“ONE-MAN BAND”) BY CURRO GONZÁLEZ
THERE WERE HORNS ON A NEARBY WALL FROM WHICH MUSIC RANDOMLY PLAYED.
ENTRANCE GATEWAY AND OUTER CHAPEL.
AL AND I WENT IN THE BACK (RIVER) ENTRANCE AND OUT THE FRONT ENTRANCE. REBELS!

Dowager Duchess Day

All over the world, people should be celebrating. Today is the 85th Annual Day of the Dowager Duchess (aka my mother’s birthday). I’m probably in big trouble — yet again — for announcing her age. She’s no longer sixteen, but she’s gotten even sweeter over the years.

SEVENTEEN GOING ON EIGHTEEN.

Happy Birthday, Mamasita!
Love, your Boys from Seville
(and your Boy in New York, too)

I Scream, You Scream…

… We all scream for ice cream.

LEMON, WATERMELON, FRESH FIG (AS OPPOSED TO DRIED), PASSION FRUIT…

The Dowager Duchess would love it here in Sevilla because her favorite food group is well-represented. It’s called helado, but The Duchess knows it better as ice cream. (I remember The Duchess dieting when I was a kid. If she did well in the morning, she’d reward herself at noon with a bowl of ice cream. Fortunately, she never really needed to diet.) 

Sevilla has “artesan” ice cream makers all over town. They make the ice cream fresh and the flavors are exotic, unusual, and surprising. I’ve been to some exceptional artesan ice cream shops here, but my favorite is also the first one we found. Villar, on the street named Puerta de la Carne (or Santa Maria la Blanca), is the place we went almost every night after dinner while we were living in the hotel last year. We were always greeted with huge smiles, offered tastes of new flavors and little dollops of specialties topping what we ordered. We walked back to the hotel every night, murmuring over our treasures and imagining what we were going to have next time. Some nights, I would be told to try the flavor that had just come out from the back. Some nights, the flavor sounded god-awful. Cheese and dried figs? Even if it could possibly taste okay, who ever heard of cheese and figs refreshing the palette? Well, when made by magicians, cheese and figs blended together make a delicious ice cream.

MELON AND MANGO. THE ONE ON THE LEFT IS CALLED SANTA BARBARA.
I DON’T KNOW ALL THAT’S IN IT, BUT IT WAS AMAZING.

My cousin Al is in town for a break from his business travels around Europe. He heads off on a cruise ship late next week where he’ll give some lectures on contemporary art and then, I hope, relax and enjoy the trip. He had been traveling and working non-stop for the previous 11 days. He arrived in town late Friday night and, knowing how tired he must be, I dragged him out Saturday morning for about six hours of sight-seeing. Truthfully, there was no dragging involved. He could have gone for another six hours.

REFLECTIONS OF YOURS-TRULY AND COUSIN AL IN THE FAR-RIGHT WINDOW.

We shopped, we strolled the Cathedral, we climbed the Giralda, we walked, we had tapas, we had ice cream, and we toured some more as we walked home. I had a great day. The highlight was spending time with Al. Coming in second was the ice cream. Well, let’s just say the highlight was having ice cream with Al. Al had two scoops of two different flavors in a cone. I had three different flavors in a cup. I love the taste of cones and I especially love the chocolate-dipped cones. But I don’t like the potential mess. I made a mess with my cup just the same since it was piled so high. I had cheese and dried fig, Santa Barbara (candied fruits in a tangy base), and melon. I don’t remember what Al had because I was too absorbed in my own. I know he had a flavor made with goat cheese that sounded awful to me. He said it was exceptionally good.

SOMETHING TO PUT IT IN. ALL DELICIOUS, BUT I PREFER A CUP.
Today after breakfast, Al and I went to the Center for Contemporary Arts of Andalcucía. We had a great time, but no ice cream. Tomorrow, I think we’ll end up in the charming old Jewish Quarter called the Barrio Santa Crúz. And, as long as we’ll be in the neighborhood (Villar is on the street that borders Santa Cruz to the north), it wouldn’t be polite to not stop by to say “hola.” And, well, as long as we’re there, we might want to sample some of the remaining 20-or-so flavors we didn’t try yesterday. As I said, just to be polite. Besides, it’s supposed to be 108 degrees tomorrow (42C). The ice cream will be required for our survival. (The Dowager Duchess would say it always is.)
THE OWNERS OF VILLAR, AS SWEET AS WHAT THEY SERVE.
(PICK A LANGUAGE, SHE’LL HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOU.)

Wonder Bread and Pepsi, and Other Bad Habits

Many people were appalled (well, nauseated) by my previous post describing San Geraldo’s love for a late-night snack of bread and milk. The idea — and appearance — is disgusting to me, too. However, San Geraldo indignantly explained this morning that I missed the entire point.

According to San Geraldo: First, you tear up the bread and dump it in a cereal bowl. Then you sprinkle the bread very generously with granulated white sugar. Then, you pour milk over it. The sugar, according to San Geraldo, is the most important ingredient and I didn’t mention it. I suppose he’s right. For most of us, it’s the only ingredient that tastes good.

But San Geraldo has another favorite from his childhood that’s even worse. He started enjoying it when returning home from the orthodontist after having his braces tightened.

Wonder Bread and Pepsi.

For my international friends who might not be familiar with Wonder Bread, it was one of the early heavily processed white breads (1921) to be packaged in the United States. Around 1930, the makers started packaging it already sliced. Unheard of at the time. As the ads said, it had “red, yellow, and blue balloons printed on the package.” It also supposedly helped “build strong bodies 12 ways” because they began to “fortify” it with 12 vitamins and minerals. (My opinion: It never really tasted like bread, but it was great for wadding up into clay-like action figures.)

Worse than the combination of bread and cola, Jerry enjoyed this concoction from a Tupperware drinking ‘glass.’

I’m sorry, but I don’t think anything should be drunk from Tupperware. I tried drinking from a Tupperware glass the first time I visited his parents and it just didn’t taste right. Even water tasted sour. Also, I’m not a dunker. Seeing semi-solid masses of somethings floating in my beverage… blech!

THE COBBLES ARE BACK IN PLACE.
I HOPE THAT MEANS NO MORE BREAD AND MILK FOR A WHILE.

San Geraldo has a relative who loves Colorado Bulldogs. Milk, Pepsi (or Coke), Kahlua, and vodka. I’ve never seen her drink one from Tupperware. But I wouldn’t be surprised.